, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 7 – The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) has urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to refer the contentious Kenya Information and Communications Act 2013 back to Parliament.
CIC chairman Charles Nyachae says the law contains provisions which are unconstitutional and if enacted in its current state, will erode the gains made in the constitution to ensure media freedom.
Addressing journalists on Thursday, Nyachae noted that freedom and independence of the media was deeply enshrined in the Constitution.
“Under Article 34 of the Constitution, the State shall not exercise control over or interfere with any person engaged in broadcasting, the production or circulation of any publication or the dissemination of information by any medium,” he noted.
He added that under the same provision, “the State shall not penalise any person for any opinion or view or the content of any broadcast, publication or dissemination.”
Among the sections requiring amendment, according to Nyachae, is the appointment of members of the Advisory Council that should not require approval by the National Assembly.
The commission states that the selection panel for the Communication and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal comprises largely of government stakeholders and who are in any event all representatives of the industry sought to be regulated.
“This is contrary to Article 34(3) of the Constitution that requires independence from government and commercial interests,” he pointed out.
Instead, CIC proposes that the panel for selecting suitable candidates for the Multimedia Appeals Tribunal should be expanded to include a wide array of stakeholders within and outside the sector.
The commission further proposes that a member of the tribunal should be removed through a tribunal, similar to other removal processes adopted for similar institutions to guarantee independence.
The commission has consequently written to the president requesting him to exercise his executive authority under Article 115 (1) (b) and refer the Bill back to Parliament, “for reconsideration in view of the mentioned unconstitutional provisions.”
It is widely expected President Kenyatta will not assent the Bill after he assured the media fraternity on November 2 that he will not sign the Bill into law until all contentious issues have been ironed out.
He said it would be an abuse of his powers to sign a bill that contravenes the Constitution into law and asked the media not to panic over the fact that the Bill passed through Parliament.